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City begins work on new protected bike lane system

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Concerns about the safety of students making their way to and from school has prompted the city to develop a system of protected bikes lanes.
Construction on phase one of the Safe Schools Route got underway last week with the installation of concrete barriers and reflectors along the west side of Mountain Road.
The first phase of the four-kilometre project will see the lane along Mountain Road constructed at a cost of $40,000.
“That is for the concrete barriers, the reflectors and the labour to install them,” city manager Sharla Griffiths said, adding Mountain Road was chosen for the first phase because it benefits the most schools.
“We’ve dubbed it as a Safe School Route and our goal through the phases is to connect all the schools, including ACC through this route.”
From Mountain Road, future phases of the project will see the route travel down First Avenue South East past the Parkland Recreation Complex, crossing Main Street and traveling west to Second Street South West, where it will turn south to take in Whitmore School and Smith-Jackson School.
“We are looking at putting it through on the widest streets possible. Putting these protected bike lanes on narrow residential streets are something that we’re really trying to stay away from, so that we don’t make any narrow streets even even more narrow,” Griffiths said, adding in certain cases there is an opportunity to move the bike route off the street.
“Because there is no sidewalk on First Avenue South East, it may be a lane on the boulevard, there would be an opportunity for that.”
The chosen route, she said, also gets cyclists to, or near some important areas such as the recreation complex, city hall, downtown, the skateboardpark and the hospital.
“Our initial goal was just to think about the schools, but creating connections to other city facilities and Main Street that’s another opportunity.” Griffiths said.
The city has had painted bike lanes and “Share the Road” signs for a number of years now, however, Griffiths said that system has not had the desired effect.
“Informal feedback is that it was unclear about the level of safety that kids would have,” Griffiths said, adding a study by a group of city employees took them on a trip to see the concept of protected bike lanes in action, which led to the system currently being installed.
“They saw that the protected bike lanes are a lot friendlier around traffic. You can have a lot more confidence that a vehicle won’t just, you know, weave in and out like in those painted lanes. So it’s the protection for the cyclists.”
Griffiths said a discussion about the need for public consultations was held internally and it was decided to provide notice to to adjacent homeowners by way of a letter.
Griffiths added the route was developed in consultation with Public Works to account for changes in services such as snow clearing and garbage collection.
Rolling garbage, recycling and yard waste bins are to be placed on the street side of the new curb. Improperly placed bins will not be collected, she said.
Snow clearing procedures along the route will also change, Griffiths added.
“(The bike lane) will be cleaned off in the winter and available for use. Snow is going either to the other side of the street or will be removed, depending on what section of the road it is,” she said.
“(The concrete curbs) are rebared in, so they are what we’re considering permanent. However, if they need to be adjusted to better suit our needs, there is an opportunity to move them.”
Parking, in most cases, will no longer be permitted along the route.
Anyone with questions can direct them to bbrenner@dauphin.ca.